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HANSEN | In Kristin Beck’s math class, sixth-graders had workbooks open as they went over answers during a lesson Tuesday.

For one problem, the Hansen students had to write 120 percent as a fraction in its simplest form.

Occasionally, Beck paused to tell students to stay on task. She also let a few borrow red pens to correct their work.

“Do you need a Kleenex?” she asked one student. “They’re on my desk if you need one.”

It seemed like a typical math class, but Beck isn’t a typical teacher.

She spends two hours a day leading math classes. But her main job is working as the Hansen School District’s superintendent and federal programs director.

This year, financial constraints and fewer teachers drove administrators back into the classroom.

The district serves 350 students in kindergarten through 12th grades. This year, the school board cut about $150,000 from the district’s $3.3 million operating budget. 

Hansen’s two school principals -- Heidi Skinner (elementary school / developmental preschool) and Kayla Kelly (junior high / high school) -- also teach for two hours a day.

Skinner teaches language arts and Kelly teaches social studies.

These days, all Hansen administrators are teaching classes. That’s because two teaching positions were left vacant when employees left at the end of the past school year.

The district needs to hire more teachers, said school board Chairman Dave Bjorneberg, but “from the budget standpoint, there’s not enough money to do what we need to do.”

Hansen employs about 20 teachers, so eliminating two positions was a 10 percent work force reduction.

“What’s killing us is continually inadequate funding. It just keeps eating away year after year after year," Bjorneberg said.

Other cuts this year included reducing supply budgets, reducing the K-12 counselor to a part-time position, and cutting back the number of Idaho Digital Learning Academy classes available for students.

Hansen teacher Debra Mathews brought up the topic of budget constraints and administrators teaching classes during an Oct. 7 public hearing in Pocatello about a proposed teacher certification rule.

Hansen Superintendent Beck declined an in-person interview with the Times-News, but provided information in writing.

Having administrators who also teach provides financial relief to the school district, she wrote. They stagger their teaching schedules so at least one school leader is available to take care of immediate needs.

“The time we spend in the classroom each day may be an extra duty on an already full plate, and it may make the job more cumbersome, but I think all of us would agree that's it's two of the best hours each day.”

It also demonstrates administrators believe in what they’re asking teachers to do “because we’ll willing to do it ourselves,” Beck wrote.

The arrangement is probably working, Bjorneberg said, but he’ll talk with administrators mid-way through the year for feedback.

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